Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oops, Sorry About That Chief -- Blaming The Worker

Store this one in your overloaded "Stupid Blame The Worker Stories" file. It's a story that could form a scene in the chemical plant equivalent of the movie "Airplane."
A worker hit the wrong switch and shut down a major Ontario (Canada) plastics plant, costing the company a pile of cash.

Reuters reported a worker accidentally tripped a shut-off switch at Nova Chemicals last week, and the mistake will cost $11 million in lost profit because it won’t be able to fulfill some contracts.

A contractor’s employee installing a structural steel platform at an ethylene plant in Corunna, Ontario, mistakenly activated a process shutdown switch, stopping production and forcing two weeks of repairs at the facility.

“The switch is a safety thing, so if anyone sees something going wrong, they have the opportunity to shut down the plant,” said Nova spokesperson Greg Wilkinson. “But that’s not what happened here. It was not a safety issue. It was simply inadvertent.”
Now, ask yourself, who's fault was this, the worker, or the idiot who designed a plant shut-down switch that someone can "inadvertently" activate?

What's going to happen to the worker?
Nova has launched an investigation into just how the worker hit the button, but the company said its priority is repairing the facility.

Nova’s spokesperson said later Wednesday that the company has decided to await the results of its inquiry before making any decision on potential penalties. However, [Greg]Wilkinson said he has some sympathy for the worker.
Wilkinson added that
"We haven't even thought about that at this point, but I'm sure they're feeling very disappointed," he said.

"Our focus right now is on getting the plant back up and running and figure out how we can avoid this in the future."
Here's an idea: Redesign the damn switch!

And let's just hope that the genious who designed the thing doesn't have a contract to design jumbo jets or nuclear power plants.